Affect vs. Effect Difference

Updated Aug 15, 2021

What's the Difference Between Affect and Effect?

By Matthew

​​Affect is a verb that typically means "to act upon or produce an effect." It can also be a noun for the emotion that someone feels in response to something. Effect is a noun that typically means "result," or something that has been done or brought about, either purposely or unintentionally. Here are some sentences illustrating the difference:

Example 1:

The team's win had a huge effect on the fans.

The team's win affected the fans.

Note that in these sentences, the word affect is being used as a verb, and the word effect is being used as a noun.

Example 2:

A person's feelings can have a significant effect on their health.

A person's feelings can affect their health.

Affect and effect are homophones, meaning that they sound alike but have different meanings, which produces the confusion. The confusion is most common in writing, but can also occur in speech.

The confusion between affect and effect probably stems from the fact that affect is commonly used as both a verb and a noun, while effect is typically only used as a noun. As a result, when writing, affect is commonly being used as a noun, but writers still want to use the verb version, so they use the word effect. Effect is then not being used as a noun, but as a verb, which is causing confusion.

More Examples

The effect of his words on her was instantaneous.

The effect of these programs on the inmates is unknown.

Alexander had a huge effect on the other children in the orphanage.

Effect as a Verb

The word effect is often used as a verb meaning "to bring about, accomplish, or complete." It is most commonly used in this sense as a noun, but can also be used as a verb. Here are some example sentences:

The new law is intended to effect major changes.

She wanted to effect changes in the political system.

The new law will effect changes in the political system.

Affect as a Verb

Affect can also be used as a verb meaning "to cause a change in." It is most commonly used as a verb, but can also be used as a noun, as shown in the example sentences below:

The new law will affect the political system.

The new law will affect the changes in the political system.

Note that affect is used in these sentences as a verb, but there are varying ways to write the sentence.

Common Usage

The use of effect as a verb is becoming increasingly common, especially in informal or conversational writing, though there is some disagreement within the writing community about whether it is acceptable. On the whole, it seems to be more accepted in American English, and less accepted in British English.

Effect as a Noun

Effect is most commonly used as a noun, meaning "a result, consequence, or impression." In this sense, it can be used both in the singular and plural. Here are some example sentences:

The effect of the new law could be seen immediately.

The effects of her diet were quite beneficial.

The effects of the toxin were not immediately apparent.

The effects were quite beneficial.

The effects were not immediately apparent.

Affect as a Noun

Affect can also be used as a noun, meaning "emotion or passion." It can be used in the singular and the plural, though the plural is less common. Here are some example sentences:

She felt an affect of despair.

Her affect was not immediately apparent.

Make sure you’re using the correct form by running your sentences through our paraphrasing tool, which will always help you find the right words for your context.

One of the best ways to solidify your understanding of the differences between affect and effect is to read real-world examples of their use. If you want to see more examples, below are famous quotes using affect and effect properly.

To learn more, check out this paraphrase how to guide; it's always good to see examples of paraphrase, so you know what to expect.

Famous uses of Affect and Effect

"You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner." (Elizabeth Bennett) "

  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

"Each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one. "

  • Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

"Beliefs are choices. First you choose your beliefs. Then your beliefs affect your choices. "

  • Roy T. Bennett

"The choices you make now, the people you surround yourself with, they all have the potential to affect your life, even who you are, forever. "

  • Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

"It seemed like this day could go in so many directions, like a spiderweb shooting out toward endless possibilities. Whenever you made a choice, especially one you'd been resisting, it always affected everything else, some in big ways, like a tremor beneath your feet, others in so tiny a shift you hardly noticed a change at all. But it was happening. "

  • Sarah Dessen

"Above all else, guard your heart for it affects everything else you do. "

  • Anonymous, Holy Bible: New International Version

"What affects one in a major way, affects all in a minor way. "

  • Martin Luther King Jr.

"Just because you refuse to acknowledge something, refuse to look at it or think about it, doesn’t mean it’s not there, that it doesn’t affect you and the choices you make in your life. "

  • Rachel Gibson, Tangled Up In You

"How do you feel, Georgie?" whispered Mrs. Weasley.George's fingers groped for the side of his head."Saintlike," he murmured."What's wrong with him?" croaked Fred, looking terrified. "Is his mind affected?""Saintlike," repeated George, opening his eyes and looking up at his brother. "You see...I'm HOLEY, Fred, geddit? "

  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

"Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit. "

  • Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase

"Our actions are guaranteed to affect others. Because we are not alone in this world, much of our learning about ourselves comes from our interaction with others. Our relationships are our teachers. We learn from each other. "

  • Tae Yun Kim, Seven Steps to Inner Power

"The scepticism which men affect towards their higher inspirations is often not an honest doubt, but a guilty negligence, and is a sign of narrow mind and defective wisdom. "

  • James Martineau, Tides of the Spirit: Selections from the Writings of James Martineau

"Choose to hustle now, to work hard now, to make all the sacrifice now. So that you can enjoy your tomorrow. Whatever it is that you suppose to do now. If you don't do it now, it will affect you badly for the rest of your life. "

  • De philosopher DJ Kyos

"In the calculus of feelings, you never really know how one person's absence will affect you more than another's. "

  • Gayle Forman, Where She Went

"confront your greatest fearsvoice your biggest problemsacknowledge your tiniest issuesthe longer you stay silentthe louder they becomethey won't disappear if you ignore themthey will spread and affect all aspects of your life "

  • Connor Franta, Note to Self

"Claiming to love self, but willingly default to cheating at the first sign of trouble is nothing short of playing yourself. Your ego may feel avenged - temporarily - but your heart and soul, the true self, will suffer the long term affects of karma's justifiable sting. "

  • T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with "The Divine Presence"

"Ragamuffins are simple, direct and honest. Their speech is unaffected. They are slow to claim, "God told me..." As they make their way through the world, they bear wordless, prophetic witness. "

  • Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

"He uses our past to positively affect our present and secure our future. "

  • Evinda Lepins

"Fallon affected my body in weird ways. But only because she’s different, I told myself. "

  • Penelope Douglas, Rival

"Deal with your past so that it won't affect your future. "

  • The Prolific Penman

"Every single one of us is born with a unique and perfect set of tools which enable us to affect the world in an awesome and profound way. Unfortunately, most people do not open their toolbox. "

  • Greg Dutilly

"You have a nearly a 0% chance of affecting change in others attitudes, behaviors, and skullduggery. However, you have a 100% chance of affecting your own attitude, behavior, resiliency, and reaction to all things within your direct ability to shape the outcome. "

  • Donavan Nelson Butler, Master Sergeant US Army

"Your environment and the associations you keep will affect how you think, feel, and act, and ultimately the results you get. "

  • Mensah Oteh, The Good Life: Transform your life through one good day